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Consider This When Replacing The Big Four Monitoring Platforms

This is the first of a two-part series focusing on what you need to know about monitoring your ecosystem. In Thursday’s blog, we’ll highlight what to look for in a “Big Four” replacement.

Whether you discuss IT Operations or work in the industry, it’s easy to expect sudden and disruptive change. But oddly, over the past decade, that wasn’t the case in the monitoring market – until now.

Once dominated by “The Big Four” (HP, CA, IBM and BMC®), the monitoring landscape is undergoing a seismic shift: BMC is being traded (yet again) to a private equity firm; CA has been acquired by Broadcom and will focus exclusively on mainframe business; IBM acquired Tivoli nearly a decade ago, but their investment in product innovation has been hamstrung; and HP is transitioning their core portfolio to cost-conscious Micro Focus, who has historically shown little appetite for portfolio investment.

All the while, organizations across the globe who relied on “The Big Four” are left scrambling to find replacement vendors. Although the change seems jarring, this market re-evaluation is long overdue. For a number of years now, many large-scale monitoring platforms have been obsolescent and would have otherwise been replaced were it not for the pain of “rip and replace” and the subsequent process of starting over.

And with the advent of multiple clouds, containers, and microservices, “The Big Four” platforms are increasingly being called into question as these technologies stretch the platforms beyond their legacy capabilities.

Indeed, one of the biggest criticisms of “The Big Four” was their lack of flexibility.

Often cited as a patchwork of acquired products, “The Big Four” platforms made it difficult for organizations to upgrade and integrate with their existing technology due to the multiple codebases, user interfaces, and data formats. And while a piecemeal fix or software update might temporarily remedy the issue, they don’t provide a long-term solution for the visibility gaps and heartburn that ensue.

Only a platform that provides holistic insight can provide that level of sought-after relief.

As Gartner said in their July 2018 research article titled, Deliver Cross-Domain Analysis and Visibility With AIOps and Digital Experience Monitoring:

“Monitoring solutions provide a fragmented, keyhole view of IT reality. Each domain, be it application, network or infrastructure, is monitored, analyzed, and sometimes even remediated via auto-generated prescriptive advice. However, these processes are happening per domain and not holistically across digital business services. Furthermore, the increasing dynamism, modularity, and ephemeral nature of modern IT environments have intensified this fragmentation. “

Gartner goes on to note that, “Despite the trend to add new capabilities to these monitoring tools from the other domains, they struggle to deliver the unified analysis needed to ensure digital business success.”

Whether the domain is application, infrastructure, network, virtualized, or some new technology that hasn’t been conceived yet, it’s a guarantee that IT will need to continue to move at a pace that’s increasingly faster, agile, and error-free.

In other words, IT will need to continue along its path towards automation.

However, automation is best positioned when it’s using data that’s unified and contextualized. And as too many companies who have relied on “The Big Four” are finding out, their legacy platforms and disparate tools make automation difficult (or nearly impossible) without integrating multiple third-party tools – a complex endeavor requiring a lot of expensive professional services.

At a minimum, to have an effective monitoring platform in today’s ecosystem, it must be able to:

    1. 1. Collect data from a broad range of technologies (including the most modern and dynamic) and do so with a variety of collection methods – and not just for events. Once the data has been properly collected, it needs to be contextualized, enabling it to serve as an effective basis for automation downstream.


  1. 2. Eliminate and/or consolidate existing tools and place them under a single pane of glass to help IT Ops make decisions faster. According to an EMA AIOps survey taken in 2018, the average company is using 23 different toolsets to run its operations. Needless to say, 23 different toolsets require painstaking procedures to read, extract, and process the data – not to mention the staff and time involved.

For most organizations, tools consolidation offers a simple solution to the sprawl that now inhabits their environment. As we previously noted in a case study and presentation, tools consolidation certainly has its merits and payoffs for ITOps. But consolidating your tools to check off a box might not get you the results that you’re aiming for.

In our next blog, titled “Going Beyond Tools Consolidation,” we describe functionalities and features that will assist in your transition from “The Big Four.”